Wednesday, March 11, 2020 3:38 pm
By Jethro Ibileke
The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has commended the management of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), the National Postgraduate Medical College, for pioneering Geriatric Unit to care for the health needs of the senior citizens.
He gave the commendation on Monday in Benin, at the Opening Ceremony of the 1st International Training of Trainers in Geriatrics, 6th anniversary of Geriatrics in UBTH and launch of Elderly-Friendly Hospitals Initiative of the Hospital and the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria.
He noted that the elderly are frequently confronted with situations and circumstances which make functional ability difficult or impossible to achieve.
According to Ehanire, “thousands of older persons regrettably die every year from chronic diseases that can be prevented or controlled, to assure healthy and productive lives. This is not globally acceptable, and should also not be, in our country.
“This makes it necessary therefore, for us to begin to develop strategies and programmes to improve the ageing process.
“The theme of this event which is “Achieving Quality Healthcare for elderly in Africa” is apt because it underscores the complexities associated with the health of the elderly in Africa and the need to focus on ameliorating their health challenges.
“This training of trainers in this discipline is the first of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa. This is significant because a key challenge to ensuring healthy ageing is the lack of trained personnel to meet the specific needs of senior citizens, which this programme addresses.
“As we work to improve mortality indices in our country today, most people can expect to live into their 60s. As the ageing population in Nigeria increases, like in many developed countries of the world, so does the demand for care and support for them, arising from potential health and social problems associated with old age.”
The Minister disclosed that Nigeria launched the “Healthcare Package for Improving Quality of Care of ageing population (HEPIQ-C) project, a first of its kind in Sub-Saharan African, with the aim of addressing health care and social issues of older persons, and has provided a model for healthcare and social support of older persons in the region.
“As part of efforts to ensure implementation of the President’s health sector agenda, we are currently reviewing the Operational manual of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF), to accommodate provision of affordable health insurance through the National Health Insurance Scheme gateway, whereby all senior citizens seventy years of age and beyond, are covered in the scheme for the rest of their lives.
“We shall mount advocacy to make UBTH a regional centre for geriatric training for the African Region,” he added.
Earlier in his welcome speech, the Chief Medical Director of UBTH, Prof. Darlington Obaseki, stated that Geriatrics is a healthcare specialty dedicated to meeting the healthcare needs of the older persons.
He expressed appreciation to the Faculty of Internal Medicine, National Post graduate college in Nigeria; Centre of Excellence for Reproductive health Initiative (CERHI) and our International faculty Dr Matthew McNabney, Hopkins Elder Phis, USA, for their collaboration.
“The Geriatrics ward (for elders), was officially opened on 17th March 2014, after an intensive training of a multi-disciplinary Geriatric team, commissioned to render specialized service to the elderly.
“The multi-disciplinary training is so designed with the intent to translate into interdisciplinary collaboration which is sine qua non for effective and efficient geriatrics services.
UBTH is taking the lead in providing locally relevant and affordable training of international standard to multi-disciplinary professionals drawn from the three levels of the health sector (primary, secondary, tertiary), private sectors and related disciplines.
“Geriatrics services in UBTH have impacted greatly on the health of older persons, such that the 15-bedded ward has increased to 20, yet utilization demand by older persons and their relatives keeps increasing, thereby creating a strong need for a comprehensive geriatric centre with expanded space and improved equipment. This is also why training and retraining of healthcare providers is apt to proactively solve manpower future needs that may arise,”he said.
Also speaking, the Chairman, Board of Directors of UBTH, Bashorun Adedoja Adewolu, lamented that the nation’s “structures and policies have not factored the need of the elderly into the system.”
“The hospital environment has given little or no support to the elderly population, their plights are often misunderstood,” he added.
In her goodwill message, the Vice Chancellor of University of Benin, Prof. Lilian Salami, harped on the importance of quality healthcare for the aged and the compelling need to invest in training programmes such as the Geriatric in order to have enough skilled manpower to take care of the elderly in the near future.
Projects commissioned at UBTH by the Minister of Health, included a new Administration block, Premium corporate services ward and Intensive Care Unit emergency room.
He also inspected the Hospital’s Brachytherapy building/Oncology complex, newly renovated Geriatric ward and digital X-ray machine.